I started using [email protected] for an office phone system a few weeks ago. Very cool! Basically, Asterisk is a phone system (a PBX) that runs on a PC. If you can imagine something that an full-up office phone system does, I can do it.
[email protected] is a project to make Asterisk easy to install.
This is what I did:
- Download the ISO image
- Burn it to a CDROM
- Boot from the CDROM
- Let it do it’s thing (which includes repartitioning your hard drive, installing Linux, rebooting, installing and compiling Asterisk
It took an hour and I had a VOIP phone system making and receiving calls. Very easy.
I started out by getting VOIP DID for my home office and for Candy’s home office. Then I switched all outgoing calls to go out over VOIP, too.
On Tuesday, I ported our home phone number from Vonage, so now it comes in through AAH, too. It’s pretty cool to have all of the phone calls come through an old PC that used to be junk in the corner of the basement.
The Vonage service was nice, no complaints and highly recommended. But I couldn’t see paying for two all-y0u-can-eat VOIP phone plans. The big problem with Vonage was that I was required to use their phone adapter. I could not bring the Vonage traffic directly into my Asterisk box.
So here is what I ended up with:
- One copper POTS line for my office, connected to AAH. I kept this so that my local business number would stay in the phone book. I had SBC set this line up so that it “forwards on busy” to my VOIP local phone number. This, and DSL, are the only phone company services coming into my house.
- One VOIP DID for my office.
- One VOIP DID for Candy’s office. Since VOIP is completely virtual, we got her a Syracuse, NY phone number so that the main office for her company can call her without paying toll charges.
- One VOIP DID for our home. This number hasn’t changed in years. We successfully “ported” it from SBC to Vonage and now to our current VOIP carrier (who shall remain unnamed because I’m not very happy with them).
- My office toll free number is forwarded to my office VOIP number.
- Calling into my office gets a nice voice menu, whether you come in through the SBC line or the VOIP line.
- Calling into Candy’s office rings her phone directly.
- Calling our home number rings the home phones directly.
- If I don’t answer my phone, you get another voice menu which lets you choose between leaving a message or being forwarded to my cell phone.
- Candy’s office phone has voice mail.
- The home phone doesn’t have voice mail. We let the “real” answering machine handle that duty.
All in all, Asterisk is a pretty nerdy undertaking. I’ve learned a lot, not the least of which is that this is not “plug ‘n’ play” software.